Stop squandering our national treasures

Monday, February 25, 2008 | 10:00 a.m. CST; updated 7:32 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It seems like every week of this new year, we have been delivered another fresh dose of bad medicine. First it was the home foreclosures, now it’s the high number of car repossessions. So, with the loss of home, automobile, job and lack of health insurance coverage, you’d think the politicians would realize what a lousy job they have done running the country. But I am not certain, even at election time, that their concern for the working class is sincere. Of course, it could be that false optimism is so deeply bred into our American culture that it’s almost impossible for us to accept the worst-case scenario. Actually, I am so absolutely bored with hearing people say that all the country needs is a change of political party and everything will be all right.

A lot of people blame our dire financial crises on all those trade agreements, the ones our leaders have made to show foreign countries how much our leaders like them rather than the American citizens they were elected to serve.

Of course, people like me are considered too dense to understand the benefits of the global economy in which we manufacture nothing and import all of our goods from someplace else. And as far as all those companies that are supposed to be coming into America and creating jobs, I want to know the names of the companies and how many they employ, and I want to see a balance sheet of jobs coming in and jobs going out. I admit I don’t understand economic theory; I need to see a chart.

You see, I don’t seem to be able to get through my head how these trade agreements help us. I can’t figure out where you get a job if you don’t want to teach, nurse, flip hamburgers or work in the service industry, period. If they were going to give all the jobs away, I think it would have been a good idea if they had waited for some people to create industries for the 21st century before they did it. Undoubtedly, there is a big employment future in the repair of the infrastructure. But then the government would have to pay contractors to do this work, and unless China is willing to lend us more money while our tax dollars are being spent on the wars and major corporations’ tax benefits, where would the money come from? With most of us on tight budgets, just hiring plumbers, electricians or other skilled laborers is a challenge.

America is truly a great country in many ways. It’s just too bad that we have squandered so much of our treasure. Just stop and think of the long struggles that took place in every village and hamlet to provide a free public education for everyone. Now look at where we stand in education today. We have state-of-the-art school buildings, but graduation rates are in the toilet. As a society, we didn’t hold the line. We knew that in order to maintain our democratic republic and to progress positively as a nation, our nation would require an educated populace. Instead of putting our educational institutions into the hands of boards and committees who understood that providing good educational opportunities for the individual as well as for the collective good, the goal became attempting to make children and parents happy and everybody feeling good about each other. Consequently, what we have on our hands is just another train wreck in which thousands of victims fall by the side of the tracks on a daily basis. They don’t disappear, however; we wind up supporting them in jails and prisons after they have been a plague on society in other ways. And as if that isn’t bad enough, millions more uneducated masses are climbing fences and pouring through our open borders to add to our illiterate numbers.

It’s primarily because of the efforts of what has been called “the greatest generation” and those who went before it that we are able to maintain a small vision of what “the noble experience” set out to try to accomplish. I think the founders envisioned a place where men and women could grow into their full potential without being restrained by political tyrants and religious fanatics. I don’t think they were planning on creating a land where everybody was free to do whatever they wanted to do without suffering the consequences. I don’t think creating a special group of people that would be happy, well-entertained and walking around with a pocketful of money was the ultimate aim.

I think it is the fantasy of fiscal conservatives that those who disagree with them want a redistribution of the wealth. That’s not true because there are some among the super-wealthy who do a world of good with their money. And even those who only want to sit in the counting room and add up their money are entitled to keep it. What people don’t want is their political buddies giving rich people tax breaks and allowing them to hire illegal workers and lower the wage standards of working Americans, And finally, people are angry about them hiring lobbyists to persuade politicians to let them write legislation that favors their self-interests.

And a final word to the party faithful. Our first president, George Washington, did not belong to a political party and was elected by the Electoral College. Two parties began to develop at the end of his first term. In his farewell address at the end of his second term, he advised the citizenry against “excessive party spirit and geographical distinctions.”

It’s too bad we didn’t listen. Do we ever?

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